When Russian blogger Lana Sator was called upon by her friend to search a deserted shack, she had no idea what awaited her…
Sure, they felt like brave and intrepid explorers. However, they had no idea that what lurked beneath the seemingly innocent shed in the heart of the woods. They also had no idea that what they found would change their lives forever…
A Very Large Hole
Her friend had told her that the hole in the ground was already there when they built the outhouse, and all they would need to do was erect the shack over it. However, what he’d apparently failed to mention was that the hole in question was extremely large and extremely deep. So much so, it had its own ladder leading down into its dark depths.
“Imagine our surprise,” the Russian blogger subsequently wrote. “Of course, rustic latrines are nothing unusual in the sparsely inhabited Republic of Karelia, a remote Russian territory straddling the heavily forested border with Finland. It is, however, quite unusual for any outhouse to conceal a secret entrance to a vast subterranean world long ago abandoned even by its own builders”.
Thankfully the blogger was no stranger to dark, dreary and derelict places. Her previous adventures have included trips to a dilapidated iron foundry, a flooded power plant and, most famously, an abandoned Soviet rocket factory outside of Moscow. This well known Russian blogger is Lana Sator, and she is a total, hardcore urban explorer.
According to her popular blog, Lana Sator had only really intended to make a brief pitstop at her friend’s cottage in Karelia that day, as other seemingly more exciting places beckoned. But when she saw the abandoned mine shaft hidden in his outhouse, she just couldn’t resist getting out her tripod and beginning her descent into the dark chasm.
A Frozen Decaying Wonderland
After descending down the ladder, Sator and her friend arrived in a completely surreal wonderland of frozen decay which was made all the more weird given the summer temperatures at the surface they’d just left. “[It] brought a sense of extreme buzz being in the kingdom of ice and snow at the time of the July heat,” she wrote on her blog.
An Incredible Labyrinth
Hinting at what possible dangers may lie ahead, channels of icy water wound through an incredible labyrinth of carved tunnels. Dilapidated mining equipment was strewn around here and there, too, as well as what appeared to be a half-submerged carriage which would previously had been used for transporting miners deep into the complex. Sator and her companion however, would have no such luxury.
Close To Freezing
Continuing on foot, the pair arrived in a tunnel totally flooded with dirty brown water. You could see an array of icicles suspended from the ceiling. The temperature of the water must have been close to freezing. But, undeterred by this, the urban explorer and her companion waded in up to their knees.
A Frosty Chamber
Before long, they arrived in a very low and cramped chamber, ice crystals sparkled under their headlamps. Similar to the inside of a giant home freezer in need of a desperate defrosting. The ceiling above them was encrusted with thick banks of ice. Meanwhile, to the left and right, ominous passages receded into the darkness.
Not A Place For A Claustrophobe
One thing was clear from all this: the mine was certainly no place for anyone that suffered from claustrophobia. In fact, some of the tunnels were so low and small, that Sator and her companion had to stoop and crawl down on all fours. Fortunately, this particular section we see, was dry and appeared to be solidly built.
Vertical Shafts At Crazy Depths
Elsewhere down below, vertical shafts appeared to plunge to crazy depths – a sight sure to induce terror in vertigo sufferers. It was at this point in their journey, Sator and her colleague stumbled upon an intriguing array of wooden built structures, including this extremely slippery-looking, partially ice covered wooden ladder.
In one section, the twosome also discovered some extremely rickety old scaffolding with platforms and ropes and what appeared to be an elevator which went back up to the surface – although it was long-disused and clearly unsafe. In another tunnel they found a helter-skelter heap of rusted equipment, the passage before them had seemingly ruptured and was blocked by earth and rubble.
The deeper they descended during their exploration, the colder it seemed to become. Soon enough, the floor beneath them was entirely covered in an opaque veneer of thick white ice. Dusted with frost, the beams above them twinkled like spooky ghostly lights, which seemed to beckon them further and further into the enticing darkness.
An Alternate Universe
Deeper still in the alternate universe maze of frozen tunnels, bizarre formations of frost clung to the slats in distended banks, their crystalline projections fed by the imperceptibly slow drip of water. Still, although surrounded by jagged ice blades, Sator and her companion bravely continued into the unknown darkness.
Icicles Like Stalactites
In places, the ice stretched from floor to ceiling in a forest of icicles almost like stalactites, and it was soon so thick that the path was virtually impassable. Sator and her friend were eager and determined to continue, though – but if it were to get much worse, a pick-axe would surely be needed to break through and clear their way.
A Frozen Waterfall?
Meanwhile, was this an underground waterfall frozen in motion? Can it be its surface only appearing to be solid thanks to the slow shutter speed on Sator’s camera? Or was it literally frozen in mid-flow? Cracking ice under her feet, Sator ventured deeper into the labyrinth. And then things just kept getting weirder – and more hazardous.
Wading Through Dirty Water
Some of the passages they reached, were almost entirely flooded, with water levels just a few feet away from the ceiling. Getting through it might have meant Sator wading up to her neck in icy, dirty water, with absolutely no idea of the potential hazards below. One small step wrong could’ve seen her foot trapped by hidden rocks. Or worse.
Escape Shafts At Various Points
At various places throughout the mine, random shafts led straight upwards to the surface of the Earth, potentially facilitating rapid escape. The slats on this ladder however, look half-broken and decayed, so only a fool would try to scale that hole without firm shoe grips, a helmet and proper climbing gear.
A Rickety Train
Without a doubt, this subterranean labyrinth was pretty large. Leading off into the unexplored gloom, was what appeared to be the remains of rickety old railway tracks still punctuated parts of it, begging the question – what was actually mined here? What were these complex tunnels once used for?
Only The Walls Would Know
It’s unclear exactly what the purpose of this particular mine was, but the Republic of Keralia is so rich in minerals that mining accounts for around a third of its industrial output. Moreover, diamonds, iron and vanadium are among the many resources currently being extracted by the region’s 53 mining companies. I guess only the walls will ever know its secret.
A Wonderful Documentation
Regardless of the mine’s history and what happened here in its former life, Sator and her friend did a fantastic job of documenting it. Who would have thought that a simple outhouse would conceal such an exciting treasure as this?
[Featured image credit: lana-sator.livejournal.com]